Tag Archives: steve wands

Search for Hu banner ad

Review: Deathstroke Inc. #2

Deathstroke Inc. #2

Deathstroke Inc. #2 delivers an issue that’s full of action in unexpected ways. Deathstroke and the team must go to space to rescue scientists who have been taken hostage on a space station. It’s the type of setup that is open for some potential and writer Joshua Williamson and artist Howard Porter take advantage in ways that are beyond unexpected.

Deathstroke Inc. #2 has Deathstroke, Black Canary, and Hiro heading to space where they come across the unexpected Cyborg Superman who’s trying to do some villainy thing. Those specifics aren’t too important, it’s just the fun action by which Porter can work his artistic magic with the issue. Williamson keeps the story fun and fast paced with lots of action and the quips you’d hope for this sort of story. Deathstroke is full of irritation as he must deal with strange situation after strange situation. And his reactions are one of a grumpy soldier thrown into a crappy situation they don’t want to be in.

It’s Porter’s art that stands out for the issue and takes a fun romp into space to the next level. Hi-Fi handles the color while letterer Steve Wands has an interesting task based on the layouts of the page. It’s those layouts that pop.

Porter takes the issue in a really interesting direction with nothing but two-page spreads. The choice by the team is one that opens up the flow and the action in a way that feels appropriate for space. A normal grid layout with some panels breaking them wouldn’t quite have the same impact.

What’s impressive about Deathstroke Inc. #2 is how it evokes the weightlessness of space in those pages with a look that’s fitting and shows the flow of movement so well. It opens up amazing page flows with work that’s just not regularly scene in comics. The issue is so unique in its style that it deserves to be bought for the art alone. The fact the story is fun too just adds to the enjoyment of it all.

The issue doesn’t waste a moment setting up the various personalities of the characters and letting them shine in the issue. It also does an excellent job of setting up the plot to come and the mystery being dangled in front of us. A fantastic issue that’s a must see.

Story: Joshua Williamson Art: Howard Porter
Color: Hi-Fi Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 8.15 Art: 10 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Mazebook #2

Mazebook #2

Mazebook‘s debut was an emotional ride of sadness and loss as a father continues to mourn the loss of his daughter a decade later. For anyone that has lost someone close to them, it’s a relatable read that is hard to not get emotional about in some way. Mazebook #2 continues that emotional journey as Will is convinced his daughter is speaking to him from beyond and urging him to come find her.

Melancholy is the best word to describe Jeff Lemire‘s series. But, it’s a sadness that has a beauty about it as well. Will is convinced his daughter is out there calling him so in the issue seeks out his ex-wife who still has some of the belongings of their child. It’s a meeting full of tension as Elena clearly has understandable issues with Will. It’s also a clear contrast between the two. While Will lingers in the past, Elena has moved on remarrying and having another child.

There’s a lot to ponder between these two characters. Will may be having a breakdown and imagining things. We’re witnessing the end of a slow slide over the past decade. Elena on the other hand has moved on creating a new life for herself. She is still hurting but has focused on a healthier way of handling things.

We’re left with the question as to what’s happening with Will? Is he really experiencing things or is it all in his imagination? Is this his way of grieving the loss of his daughter? It’s all an interesting read as we’re left guessing exactly what’s going on. Does the maze need to be solved and at the end is Will’s acceptance? There’s a lot of ways things can go.

What is an absolute is Jeff Lemire’s fantastic art. With Steve Wands on lettering, Lemire brings his unique style that mixes ink and watercolor like visuals for an almost dreamlike experience at time. The visuals are hauntingly beautiful full of sadness. The weariness of Will and the anger and sadness of Elena are present in every panel. These are characters who wear their emotional tolls on their face and Lemire makes sure that we are aware of every little detail.

Mazebook #2 is an interesting read. Where you are in your life might impact in how you approach the series. As a relatively new father, I read the series and think of it as my worst nightmare. Those who might have lost a child or those with no children are sure to experience it in another way. No matter how you approach it, it’s hard to deny Jeff Lemire is showing why he’s considered one of the current greats.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Jeff Lemire Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Deathstroke, Inc. #1

Deathstroke, Inc. #1

Lets get the big thing out of the way, Deathstroke is a very complicated character with a past that’s unforgiveable at times. There’s some major stories featuring the character that has him as a pedophile and rapist. For that alone, it’s a bit awkward to see the character in a starring comic, and has been. But, it’s even more difficult when that comic is just… fun. Deathstroke, Inc. #1 has the character joining a new organization, T.R.U.S.T. who are taking down DC’s villains. Joining Deathstroke are Hiro Okamura, aka Toyman 2.0, and Black Canary. The trio creates a combination that’s full of over-the-top action cool.

Written by Joshua Williamson, Deathstroke, Inc. #1 drops readers right into the action with crazy action moments and full page art that pops. There’s little you need to know here, it’s Black Canary and Deathstroke vs. H.I.V.E. with orders to bring the H.I.V.E. Queen in alive. That doesn’t stop the duo from blowing things up, shredding bad guys with guys that’d back Rob Liefeld blush, and all the cool tech toys a looted Batman’s arsenal brings. Yes, you read that right, T.R.U.S.T. has access to a lot of Batman’s former toys. Deathstroke riding in on a Batmobile? Yeah, it’s here. Hints at even more cool tech toys to play with? That’s peppered throughout the comic. Deathstroke, Inc. #1 is James Bond action on steroids, Q and all.

While Williamson doesn’t address the most troublesome of Deathstroke’s actions, what he does bring up is the guilt. Through all of the explosions and action, he gives us some motivations as to why Deathstroke and Black Canary are now partners and part of this new organization. We get a sense of a character who has aged and trying to create some sort of legacy that’s more than being a mercenary and villain. There’s a lot there and we’ll see if Williamson dives into some of his weightier moments.

Deathstroke, Inc. #1 pops due to Howard Porter’s art with colors from Hi-Fi and lettering by Steve Wands. The action is dialed up to 11 with no subtlety at all. This is a comic which doesn’t take itself seriously and has no issue ramping everything up to silly moments. Drone strikes won’t get you to blink as entire blocks go up in flames. There’s also some great creepiness to it all as H.I.V.E. is depicted in an interesting way that is a little unnerving. A trip into the Queen’s home turns into the things of nightmares and that’s all due to the visuals. It’s impressive to deliver such a twisted, unnerving aspect to the popcorn action.

Deathstroke, Inc. #1 is a fun comic. It doesn’t take itself seriously and just goes with the flow. There’s no thinking here. It’s big guns, cool toys, and lots of action packed in its pages. But, Williamson teases a little more with the characters’ motivations. Whether the series continues its popcorn summer blockbuster path or can be more will be all about that and we’ll have to wait and see. But, for a beginning, this is a crazy start that shows off everyone’s talents.

Story: Joshua Williamson Art: Howard Porter
Color: Hi-Fi Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Superman and the Authority #3

Superman And The Authority #3

The shape of Grant Morrison’s storyline becomes clearer in the penultimate issue of Superman and the Authority #3 with the team going on their first mission and a larger (and very old school) foe rears its ugly head even as the recruitment drive continues. Yes, the final member of The Authority is Lightray aka Lia Nelson from Earth-9 aka the Tangent Comics universe giving the book a continued 1990s/early 2000s feel a la the original team. This extends to Travel Foreman and Alex Sinclair’s visuals in an early sequence where the team must rescue June Moone aka the Enchantress from her old nemesis Dzamor that features edgy, energy-filled art work and a delicate Sandman-esque script from Morrison, whose Superman uses cleverness not punching to win the day. However, this art goes bye bye and is replaced by the sleek, modern stylings of Mikel Janin and Alex Sinclair for the inter-team banter and battles to come.

Superman and the Authority #3 really builds off the previous issue’s character-driven focus to put team members which we already care about in intense situations with Grant Morrison splitting the team up in smaller groups except for their leader, Superman, who gets to go mano a mano in his situation. As mentioned in the last paragraph, Superman’s cleverness, not his waning super strength gets a workout in this issue until the final few pages, and the Authority lineup covers up his weaknesses while also acting like variables in equations. For example, Enchantress has no upper limit to her magical abilities when she merges June Moone and Enchantress as one, Manchester Black’s psychic skills and general bad attitude come in handy rescuing and merging said technologies, and Apollo’s solar powered strength slots in nicely for Superman’s old abilities. Plus he treats Superman with the most respect and deference with the exception of Steel, who has a personal relationship with him through her uncle.

Even if this Authority team doesn’t have a multi-adventure/arc future mapped out for them, the interpersonal dynamic that Morrison and Janin craft for the team through dialogue, facial expressions, and body language make for an entertaining time. Manchester Black plays the role of punching bag, (*groans*) devil’s advocate, and general wise-ass, and his continued being cut down to size is more memorable than the bigger plot. Six months from now, I won’t care what the Big Bad was up to (I do admire Grant Morrison’s nod to history and Mikel Janin’s body horror design choice.), but I will remember that Old Man Superman praised the activist-minded nature of late millennial/Generation Z and showed how shallow the “old is good, new is bad” paradigm of books like Kingdom Come were in a two panel exchange with Black. This Superman doesn’t have a no-killing policy because of the Comics Code Authority or Mark Waid, but because death ultimately prevents restorative justice, which is what he seems to be aiming for with this new team.

Yes, that’s the actual Round Table

Superman and the Authority #3 is titled “Grimdark”, and it fits the active violence of the story as well as the literal darkness enshrouding Lightray at her crash pad where Apollo and Enchantress try to snag her. Lightray gets an abbreviated version of the solo sub-stories that Steel, Midnighter and Apollo, and Enchantress got in the previous, and Jordie Bellaire’s palette does a lot of the heavy lifting as she goes from being the first child born on Mars to an influencer type figure and then hiding in the dark talking to a mysterious figure. Bellaire uses a dark red panel for her birth because she was the child of an affair then uses a bright palette for her superhero identity and then turning to utter darkness until Apollo pops in with his whole solar deal. The brightness doesn’t let up as Apollo ends up in physical combat with Lightray’s “body guard”. Introducing a new cast member this late in the game is a risky, but Morrison, Janin, and Bellaire roll the dice and resurrect a wild card character that brings an element of sadness, vulnerability, and pure potential. I’m excited to see the role Lightray plays in Superman and the Authority‘s endgame.

For the most part, Superman and the Authority #3 avoids the “middle chapter” issue in serialized comics as Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin, and Jordie Bellaire bring out the team’s opponent, show an aging Superman using his mind instead of his powers and playing the role of strategist instead of tank, and give a glimpse of the actual Authority team in action. It hits that sweet spot between light and darkness kind of like June Moone/Enchantress and her fun new look. (Her attempts at flirting with Apollo are pretty pathetic though.)

Story: Grant Morrison  Art: Mikel JaninTravel Foreman
Colors: Jordie Bellaire, Alex Sinclair Letters: Steve Wands
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Mazebook #1

Mazebook #1

Haunting. That’s the best word to use to describe Jeff Lemire‘s Mazebook #1. It’s a sad, slightly depressing story that tugs and heart strings. William Warren has suffered the unthinkable, the loss of a child. Ten years gone and only with her 11 years, the story is a gut punch for anyone who has lost someone close to them too soon. As a parent, it’s my nightmare.

Mazebook #1 is depressing. Very depressing. And it’ll be a struggle for some to get through. But, it’s also hauntingly beautiful. Lemire takes us through the life of a man adrift. After the loss of his child, he goes through his daily routine. And routine is the key word. The days are the same with only some small details changed. And it’s those details that are important. Warren is losing them as he struggles to remember his daughter’s face and more and more about her. What he remembers is a ratty sweater she’d wear. And it’s strange, small details like that throughout the comic that are both sad and beautiful.

Warren spends his days in his routine with attempts from others to break him from it. He’s so focused on the past and trying to hold on to his memories that he’s ignoring the present and the new memories he can make. This is a man lost in his sadness and the emptiness that exists. It’s understandable and something so many can relate to.

Lemire’s art adds to the atmosphere of the comic with small hints and teases of what’s to come. A string from the sweater turns into a line that leads to something else. It’s Warren’s world blending together as he attempts to keep ahold of the past. Steve Wands‘ lettering adds to the melancholy of the story. There’s just the right size and placement to emphasize Warren’s state and a few emphasized moments to break him, and us, out of it.

Nearly everything Jeff Lemire releases is gold. Mazebook #1 is another amazing debut from the creator that’s sure to create buzz and wrack up award nominations. It’s sad. It’s beautiful. And, it’ll hit so many readers in the gut and take them on an emotional ride. This isn’t a “feel good” comic to read but it’s an amazing start to an adventure to come.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Jeff Lemire Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindle Zeus Comics

Black Caravan and Scout Unleashes the Swamp Dogs

Black Caravan, the horror imprint of Scout Comics, has finally unleashed the Swamp Dogs on the world– and the world will never be the same again. The mystery campaign is over, and the cover of Swamp Dogs: House of Crows #1, by Robert Sammelin, has been revealed.

Swamp Dogs: House of Crows will jumpstart the Swamp Dogs universe. A 5 issue miniseries, it will introduce readers to the titular villains and the world which they are seeking to create. The book is a modern take that blends grindhouse, 70s and 80s horror, stoner comedies, cult classics, and midnight movies into one wild ride. The mini is a tight, funny, sexy, gory, horrific standalone story that is planned to lead into other ongoing titles, miniseries, and one-shots. It follows a budding lesbian couple and The Grunch, a goofy and fun-loving metal band, as they unwittingly stumble upon the SWAMP DOGS and their HOUSE OF CROWS.

Swamp Dogs: House of Crows Ashcan preview is now available. The first issue will be released in October 2021. Variants and exclusive covers, including by heavy metal artist Solo Macello, interior artist Kewber Baal, and Steve Wands’ (who also letters the series) first comic book cover, will be unveiled at a later date. Coloring the book is comic veteran Ruth Redmond. J.M. Brandt and Theo Prasidis will be co-writing the comic.

Swamp Dogs: House of Crows #1

Review: Snow Angels Season Two #3

Snow Angels Season Two #3

Snow Angels second season is here! The trudge through the snow into the unknown has been filled with tension up to this point and the series has pivoted in some ways to being a straight up sci-fi horror. Milli and Mae have stumbled upon a whole new world as they’re still being pursued by the Snowman. What it wants is unknown but the body count it leaves in its wake has been impressive. Snow Angels Season Two #3 ups the tension as the Snowman has come across the mysterious village and it seems nothing can stop it.

What’s impressive about Snow Angels Season Two #3 is Jeff Lemire‘s ability to keep the story simple but tense. The issue is a quick read but it’s full of tension and emotion. Lemire’s story is a horror story. The Snowman is a serial killer stalking its victims much like Jason or Michael Meyers. The setting though is a strange snow covered, cold world.

What Lemire also does so well is show, not tell. There’s so many details packed into the issue as Mae and Milli attempt to flee. There’s pages you’ll linger on attempting to figure out their discoveries. We’re delivered the wonder as they stumble upon it. And what’s teased is world changing in so many ways.

Lemire is helped by the art of Jock whose style works so well with the comic and story. Space is given to let the world and its surroundings to play out. It’s very much like the “astronaut” tease in Alien that has viewers guessing as to what they’ve witnessed. With lettering by Steve Wands all of that plays in the background as the focus is on the terror of everyone being hunted. There’s such emotional, and fear, that plays out and by the end, you’re fearful for Mae and Milli’s fate.

Snow Angels Season Two #3 is another fantastic issue. It really plays to the strengths of comic books using the visuals to tell so much of the story. But brilliantly, so much of that is in the background for readers to spot. It’s acknowledge only briefly, the focus is in the fear and the hunt. With issues to go, this is a series that keeps you guessing as to where it’s going.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Jock Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 8.45 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.65 Recommendation: Buy

comiXology provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyKindle

Review: Superman and the Authority #2

Superman and the Authority #2

Superman and Manchester Black assemble the new Authority squad in Superman and the Authority #2, and the issue goes about the ol’ recruitment drive issue in a creative way while still leaving time for plenty of interactions between the Man of Steel and his predominantly fans turned teammates. Grant Morrison structures this comic in a really engaging way collaborating four artists and four colorists to tell a frame story featuring Superman, Manchester Black, and their new teammates (Mikel Janin and Jordie Bellaire), a Natasha “Steel” Irons solo adventure (Fico Ossio and Sebastian Cheng), an Apollo and Midnighter team-up (Evan Cagle and Dave Stewart), and a June Moone aka Enchantress spookfest (Travel Foreman and Alex Sinclair). Each of these small units of story allow Morrison and the artists to play in different genres and flesh out each member of The Authority while building to a bigger whole.

The Grant Morrison-penned banter between Manchester Black and Superman along with the clean lines of Janin and strong colors tie together the disparate art styles and sub-stories of Superman and the Authority #2. This older Superman is vulnerable and self-aware about it taking Black’s snipes about his power set reduction in stride while quipping about being “a samurai in autumn” and not caring if he has to take a spaceship (That’s quite cool) everywhere instead of flying. He also is straight up revered by his teammates with Natasha Irons joining the team simply because he’s on it, and Midnighter using the Authority team membership as his anniversary present for Apollo, who breaks his usual reticence and gushes about how Superman was an inspiration to him. (Even if he’s a bit more violent than the Man of Steel.) June Moone gets the last story, and the team doesn’t really interact with her that much, but almost silently, Superman’s silhouette acts as a figure of hope in the middle of the utter hopelessness of the Hilltop Sanitorium.

Natasha Irons gets the first short story, and Morrison, Ossio, and Cheng craft a story that in a previous age might be called cyberpunk. Basically, her and her uncle, John Henry Irons’ Metropolis headquarters has been overrun by sentient Internet beings endangering their operations as well as their city and the whole world. Grant Morrison and Fico Ossio take a literal approach to the enemies they fight, such as trolls, “eternal edgelords”, and of course, plain ol’ misinformation that continues to take the world especially in a world ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. (If you’re reading this review and haven’t been vaccinated, please get the vaccine.) Sebastian Cheng’s garish color palette as Irons battles the racist, sexist slime of the Internet feels like you’re in the middle of a flame war, and Ossio overwhelms the page with figures. However, Steel is no damsel in distress and uses her empathy and intelligence to deal with the threat and prove that she’s a worthy successor to Superman as hero of Metropolis and will fill the tech role (Think Angela Spica in the original Authority) well.

As a known Midnighter fan, of course, the second sub-story from Grant Morrison, Cagle, and Stewart is my favorite as Midnighter and Apollo bicker like an old married couple while trying to save some psychic kids that are being trafficked in a very high tech, body horror kind of way. Evan Cagle and Dave Stewart’s art showcases the dark badass nature of Midnighter with sweeping shadows and minimalist imagery in panels like guns falling or bloods dripping to just show how in control of the situation he is. However, there’s a bit of the hiccup in the action, and this gives Apollo a chance to play hero and then murder children with his yellow glow getting a little sadder. The atomic sheen that Stewart gives Apollo gives Morrison a chance to do some political commentary via Superman and Manchester Black about “idealistic liberals” and basically how a Democrat was responsible for dropping the only atom bombs in history. It’s a fitting observation as leftists and progressives become increasingly disgruntled with a party that won’t do squat while it has control of the legislative and executive departments and negotiates with a party that was responsible for and tolerated a right wing insurrection. Personally, Midnighter and Apollo have a fun, flirtatious dynamic, but their good intentions (Saving Middle Eastern children) turned downright genocidal is a spot-on metaphor for American foreign policy as well as the failure of “liberal” ideals.

Finally, the June Moone story is for fans of Grant Morrison’s work on Arkham Asylum and is a little bit like a less gory, easier to follow Nameless. Travel Foreman and Alex Sinclair’s visuals are suitably atmospheric with plenty of dark shadows and corridors plus a mainly monochromatic palette with hints of red. It’s a Lovecraftian psychodrama as June Moone’s boyfriend has been having an affair with the Enchantress and wants to unleash her tonight with the help of an elder, purple god. After the science fiction and superheroics of the majority of Superman and the Authority #2, Morrison, Foreman, and Sinclair capture hopelessness in a house with the door held slightly ajar in the end. Out of the Authority team members, Enchantress is the least traditionally heroic, but every Authority squad needs a shaman or wizard type figure, and she’s a powerhouse on that account. But first the team will have to play Orpheus to her Eurydice.

Superman and the Authority #2 is a master class in how to assemble a superhero team in the space of a single issue. Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin, Fico Ossio, Evan Cagle, and Travel Foreman seamlessly combine multi-genre short stories with a thematically rich overarching narrative of an aging Superman and a chaotic Manchester Black trying to do this superhero thing the right way. (No genocides, please!) I can’t wait to see this merry band fight through Hell, and Apollo fangirl over (hot dad) Superman some more!

Story: Grant Morrison Art: Mikel Janin, Fico Ossio, Evan Cagle, Travel Foreman
Colors: Jordie Bellaire, Sebastian Cheng, Dave Stewart, Alex Sinclair Letters: Steve Wands
Story: 8.6 Art: 9.2 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: The Other History of the DC Universe #5

The Other History of the DC Universe #5 wraps the series up bringing it full circle as 1981 to 2010 are explored through the eyes of Anissa Pierce.

Story: John Ridley
Layouts: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Finishes: Andrea Cucchi
Color: José Villarrubia
Letterer: Steve Wands

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.


This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Superman and the Authority #1

Superman and the Authority #1

Imagine a world where the Justice League failed in their mission to bring about modern Camelot on Earth, either the King Arthur one or the John F. Kennedy New Frontier one. Both fell any way. Writer Grant Morrison, artist Mikel Janin, and colorist Jordie Bellaire explore this avenue plus an ailing Superman in the first issue of their new miniseries Superman and the Authority. This comic is the perfect distillation of Otto Binder and that other British comic book writer with a beard who was a sex pest. Opening with an earnest chat between Superman and JFK and concluding with a gin-swilling British anti-hero vomiting on (a representation of) the world, Superman and the Authority brings together Silver Age and the Dark Age, but the decent Vertigo/Wildstorm stuff, not Lobdell and Nicieza on the X-Books.

Grant Morrison hits this sweet spot by focusing Superman and the Authority #1 by focusing on two characters, Superman and Manchester Black setting up the thesis for the series before the inevitable recruiting drive in next month issue’s. They bring in plenty of bells of whistles with their script, including edgy dialogue and vomit noises for Black and Silver Age deep cuts for Superman. (Kryptonian Thought-Beasts are so cool, which might be the only thing that Geoff Johns and I ever agree on.) However, what truly brings these two disparate worlds and characters together is the visuals of Janin and Bellaire. Mikel Janin’s clean line style with slight Ben-Day dot expertly conveys the nostalgia of the 1960s (Which happens to be the decade Morrison grew up in.), and his film strip layout of astronauts and Superman leaping on the moon along with JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy waving to passerbys captures an era of youth and optimism.

But this all broken up by distorted line-work from Janin and reds and blacks from Bellaire than come in any time characters are stressed and in trouble throughout Superman and the Authority from Manchester Black taking gunfire in a flurry of grid panels to Superman basically taking a life and death gambit with Phantom Zone prisoners to persuade Black to join his team. For this extended sequence, Janin works from odd angles and emphasizes the agony of a slowly depowering Superman, who can’t fly any more aka the opposite of the smiling Silver Age hero, who could breathe in space and turn a lump of coal into diamond with his bare hands. Again, there are lots of reds and repetition of the word “Die” like it’s a Misfits song or something until Manchester Black reluctantly decides to be a hero, and Jordie Bellaire pours on a bit of telekinetic blue because telepathy doesn’t work on drones. In the spirit of Hitman #34, Superman’s true power isn’t heat vision, X-Ray vision, or flight, but the ability to provide hope and inspire even the most gin-sodden anti-hero.

Speaking of hope, some fans and critics were definitely a little bit taken aback by Superman leading The Authority, a team that in past incarnations had no problem killing and doing other various terrible things in the spirit of proactive superheroing. However, Grant Morrison does a good job of making a case for a collaboration between Superman and them without shying away from action, a bit of mystery (Aka shadowy figures talking about kryptonite), and some big ideas. Even though Superman and the Authority opens with JFK and Superman smiling and laying the foundation for both the Justice League and the moon landing, the rest of the book focuses on the Man of Steel’s vulnerability. For example, instead of flying to Manchester Black’s rescue from helicopter sniper gunfire tearing across the pages, he leaps over a building in a single bound (A la New 52/Golden Age Superman), and Mikel Janin abandons his usual clean style for hazy, black lines. Morrison’s dialogue also alludes to this weakness like lines about Superman hovering over the ground for short periods as a kind of “exercise”.

It’s a far cry from a smiling figure flying into the sun, and it’s why Superman has recruited anti-heroes like Manchester to replace his lost powers and strike from the shadows and the margins because trying to change the world from out in the open leads to the assassination of JFK or MLK or RFK, who are all alluded to in Superman and the Authority #1 along with traditional Superman comic book opponents Intergang, Darkseid, and Doomsday. These baddies’ names evoke corruption, pure evil, and the ultimate defeat as Doomsday was solely created to kill Superman. (And boost sales!) They could definitely kick the current Superman’s ass as evidenced by his struggles with some drones from the Phantom Zone, which is where the new incarnation of the Authority comes in. Superman shows Black a literal Round Table when making his sales pitch, but Manchester Black’s vomiting and the overt mention of anti-heroes in Grant Morrison’s dialogue show that this team is going to be the polar opposite of their JLA.

Superman and the Authority #1 finds a balance of hope and cynicism through the characters of real time aged Superman and Manchester Black. Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin, and Jordie Bellaire give Black a true arc in this issue as evidenced by inset panels showing him walk away from the Fortress of Solitude and eventually slowly turning back to help him. Although Morrison makes cracks at traditional superheroes like the X-Men and JLA, their writing comes across as healthy skepticism more so than grimdark for the sake of grimdark. This is what Superman and the Authority the natural next step in their take on superhero team books as it captures the spirit of an age where racism, inequality, and senseless suffering continue with an added bonus of a climate crisis despite the social reforms of the 1960s.

To sum it all up, Superman and the Authority #1 is about the failure of the supposed Age of Aquarius as Morrison, Janin, and Bellaire turn from smiling, well-hewn Superman to a half-naked Manchester Black surrounded by detritus and targeted by the mooks of American imperialism. But there’s always hope even the more commercially successful superhero team failed in their mission to make the world a better place.

Story: Grant Morrison Art: Mikel Janin
Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Steve Wands
Story: 8.8 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.1 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Almost American
« Older Entries